What is one to make of Al Gore’s brazen act of endorsing Howard Dean for the presidency? Certainly it is a slap in the face of Sen. Joe Lieberman, Gore’s 2000 running mate. But what is its substance? Is Gore really someone who considers Howard Dean’s opposition to the war with Iraq so vital that this alone should qualify Dean for the presidency?
Now, I am no mind reader, but we do often speculate on people’s motives and intentions. So, I am speculating that Gore did this, in part, because he wants to be the Democratic candidate in 2008.
Dean, the former Vermont governor, cannot beat George Bush in 2004 — Dean is too far to the left of the country, and Gore must know this. So why back a likely loser? I suggest it’s because Gore is paving the way for his own political resurrection. If Dean actually beats Bush, that pretty much means he is the candidate again in 2008 and Gore’s out. But if Dean loses, then Gore has a good chance again.
Bush may not be all that popular, but after the economic resurgence we are witnessing now — and some better news out of Iraq — it is unlikely someone as far left as Dean can beat him. No, it is not impossible, especially if they debate and Bush is shown up for the inarticulate, cliche-using politician he is (Not that being articulate is all that great a virtue, but in politics it tends to help, if only for show.).
Dean is good on his feet and has the charm that appeals to a lot of voters who don’t have a lot of time to think through a candidate’s philosophy and public policy proposals.
Bush, of course, has his Texas swagger and may hang on to all those who associate American military aggressiveness with patriotism. But his domestic spending record is nearly indistinguishable from those of the Democrats, except for his tax cuts and rhetoric about how it is our money and we should be able to keep some of it (One wonders, then, if it is our money, why shouldn’t we keep all of it, and why not run government on voluntary contributions and fees?).
So, the Gore endorsement makes sense because Gore wants to get another shot, it seems, at the presidency when Bush can no longer run, and after Dean will have lost to him.
But, why not just take the Gore endorsement at face value? Gore likes Dean because of Dean’s views, period, and wants to have Dean be president because it’s such views that he believes ought to guide public policy in this country. Would that not be the simpler, more straightforward explanation?
I really do not much care which scenario is more likely — Bush is no bed of roses, given that he took us into a war that was unnecessary and unjustified. Dean or Gore would probably not be all that much worse, on balance. And if the Republicans keep Congress, a gridlock may be the best thing. It’ll keep the feds somewhat at bay.
Tibor Machan advises Freedom Communications, parent company of this newspaper.